My mother in-law was once operated. Obviously, she refused
blood transfusions at all cost. However, what was fascinating about the
experience are the several deceptions she encountered along the way.
At first, she believed that there were alternative treatments
that would offer equal, if not higher rates of success for her type of planned
surgery. As the local doctor did not want to take the risk himself, he referred
her to a blood-less specialist.
She than contacted the Hospital Liaison Committee (HLC) as
they are supposed to be the best resources in such circumstance. They confirmed
that they knew the specialist and to proceed with him. They added that he had
operated on one or two JWs within the last few years.
First deception: That’s
not a lot of experience with blood less surgery! We thought she would end up in
the hands of a rock star, no blood surgeon! Turns out that what makes a
bloodless surgeon has less to do with his skills than his willingness to let a
patient die of anemia. Later on, the local surgeon confirmed that he would not
operate as he would do everything to keep her alive, including transfusing
blood and face the legal/medical consequences.
On the first appointment with the “bloodless” surgeon, we
found out that based on her current health, nothing can be done to increase the
odds of the operation. In addition, there is a 3% chance she will not survive
the procedure due to her refusal of blood.
We thought that she would take products to increase her red blood cells, or do
other things to increase whatever. Well.. no. Nothing to be done. You cannot
have 120% red blood cells.
The operation is in fact more risky. 3% is not a small risk. For instance, the
risk created by her decision to avoid blood is in fact 4,000 times greater than
jumping out of an air plane.
Before the operation, the HLC asked my mother in law to
update her “no blood” card. As she did so, we helped her realize that she would
basically give away all her rights to the JWs unless our names were on that
Forth deception: She
was shocked to see that JWs were requesting access to her medical files and
took full control of patients when this type of thing is obviously meant to be
done by immediate family. We could tell that she felt invaded and seriously not
at ease about this. To their credit however, they did not pressure my mother in
law when they saw that she had put our names in there.
Throughout the entire process, the HLC's presence was “phoned in”. They did not
provide any helpful suggestions or information. They were basically useless.